​Delegate revises controversial financial aid bill

Student leader call this 'victory for students,' still oppose amended bill

nsvacapitolcourtesyflickrcommons

Del. David Albo (R-Springfield) has revised HB 1410 — a bill meant to limit out-of-state enrollment and the allocation of tuition dollars going towards financial aid programs at Virginia’s public universities. The revision was read in front of committee for the first time Friday.

The revisions allow for a higher percentage of out-of-state student enrollment than the original bill. It also requires Virginia public universities with more than 30 percent out-of-state enrollment to put remaining tuition revenue towards in-state students’ financial aid.

This differs from the original bill, which aimed to prohibit any in-state tuition revenue from going towards financial aid and a maximum of five percent of out-of-state tuition revenue from going towards financial aid for non-Virginian students. These requirements were removed in the amended bill.

Last week, University President Teresa Sullivan called HB 1410 a cause for concern, noting that the clause restricting the amount of out-of-state tuition that could be used for financial aid “pulls the rug out from under AccessUVA.”

AccessUVA guarantees the University will meet 100 percent of admitted students’ demonstrated financial need. The purpose of this program is to make sure the best-qualified candidates have the opportunity to study at the University, regardless of financial status.

“U.Va. remains firmly committed to AccessUVA as one of the University's valuable tools to better ensure access and affordability for our students,” University Deputy Spokesperson Matt Charles said in an email statement.

However, he declined to comment further on HB 1410, citing University practice not to speak on pending legislation.

Second-year College student Zaakir Tameez, director of state relations and legislative affairs for Student Council, said in an email to The Cavalier Daily that he was shocked when he read the first draft of Albo’s bill.

“The bill threatened to shatter AccessUVA — the program that allows so many low-income students to attend this University,” Tameez said. “We knew this bill was dangerous to so many of the students that Student Council is elected to serve.”

Student Council passed a resolution in opposition to HB 1410.

According to Tameez, a large coalition of student leaders from a variety of organizations across Grounds came together to lobby to change the language in HB 1410. Groups including United for Undergraduate Socioeconomic Diversity and the Minority Rights Coalition organized a phone bank, an email writing campaign and a petition with nearly 1,000 signatures that was sent to the subcommittee that handled the bill.

UFUSED could not be reached for comment and MRC did not return a request for comment.

Albo voluntarily withdrew the financial aid ban from HB 1410 Monday. Tameez called it “a victory for students.”

Albo also agreed to raise the cap on out-of-state students from 25 percent to 30 percent. In an email to The Cavalier Daily, he cited compromise as the determining factor for the 30 percent cap, but said he did not know how integral student lobbying was to the bill revision.

“I wanted 25 percent, but agreed to a higher [number],” Albo said.

According to Albo, the compromise was also reached by “trying to find a way to keep tuition low and limit the excessive number of out of state students in a way that U.Va. and W&M [the College of William and Mary] can live with.”

Tameez said some student groups are not entirely satisfied with the revised version of the bill, and will continue to oppose it. The amended language still complicates the tuition process for any out-of-state student over the 30 percent cap.

The amended bill passed the House of Delegates Tuesday with 97 votes. The Virginia State Senate will now consider the proposed legislation. 

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